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14 posts from December 2016

Reflections on 2016: Diversity, Inclusion, Our Nation and Our Profession

Kim DrumgoAs December draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the many ways difference and respect have been brought to the forefront in our communities and on the political stage this year. I’ve witnessed tragedies and heard disturbing rhetoric that have left many in our nation feeling unsettled, and even fearful. We cannot ignore these realities because they help shape our strategies for the future.  And while it may be difficult for some, we all must do our best to continue to move forward and lead with clear vision. It’s important to recognize that respect, inclusion and difference made real advancements in 2016, and will continue to do so in years to come.

With this in mind, I’d like to take a moment to highlight several accomplishments in the accounting profession that I am particularly proud of, as well as accomplishments within AICPA’s diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives.

 

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5 to Watch: Trends and Predictions Shaping 2017

Kimberly Ellison-Taylor

Our profession took shape more than a century ago, about the time a Scottish-born scientist named Bell was inventing the telephone, two brothers from Ohio were figuring out how to take flight and Henry Ford was creating his horseless carriage.

To say that things have changed a bit since then would be a comedic understatement. We’ve transformed the phone into an omnipresent digital assistant, soared far beyond the boundaries of this planet and figured out how to make cars drive themselves.

As the world has changed, so has our profession. We are strong and relevant today, because we anticipate and adapt to the changing needs of the clients and businesses we serve. As chairman of the AICPA, it’s so important to me that we maintain a laser focus on what’s next – because it is coming at us faster than ever.

From my conversations with CPAs and CGMAs across the country and around the world I’d like to share five disruptors that I see shaping the business environment in 2017. I would love to hear from you, too. Let me know in the comments what you are seeing and anticipating in the New Year.

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CPA Exam Q1/Q2 2017 Score Release Timetables

The Q1/Q2 2017 score release timetable is now available. Score release timelines are updated biannually on AICPA Insights and on the CPA Exam website. For more information about score release and the scoring process, please visit the Psychometrics and Scoring page.

The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy releases the scores to candidates and state boards of accountancy based upon the target score release dates listed in the tables below.

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Keeping it in Perspective: A Woman’s Take on the Profession

Financial planning adviserIt’s amazing how much things have changed. Back in 2004, I was recruited by my adviser and changed my career from forensic accounting to financial planning. I can clearly remember my first day in the firm’s Monday morning training; I was the only woman in the group and the firm owner addressed us as, “Guys… and gal.” I imagine his limited experience with women in this role (the firm had only employed a few other women advisers) caused him to want to tread lightly. His effort to include me was sincere, but in the process he made me feel different. It may not be surprising to hear that many financial planning firms simply do not have a large number of female advisers on staff in 2016, but they were even more scarce in 2004.

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Three Tips for Effectively Managing Remote Teams

Working remotelyWith business continuing to expand globally, leaders need to exercise new management skills in order to effectively engage an increasingly remote and diverse workforce. <click to tweet> In an article for CGMA Magazine, Dan Griffiths, CPA, CGMA, director of strategy and leadership at Tanner LLC, says, “One challenge of managing decentralized workers is giving them a sense of inclusion. Their in-person interaction is limited, but there are ways to make them feel like part of the team.” Read on for three tips from profession leaders on effectively managing remote workers:

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7 Book Recommendations for Not-for-Profit Leaders

Shutterstock_525675187Curling up in a blanket by the fireplace with some hot cocoa and a great book is one of the most relaxing ways to spend a winter afternoon. To help prepare for potential downtime over the holidays, the AICPA Not-for-Profit Section polled staff and volunteers to pull together a list of recommended page turners that will help invigorate you for the year ahead. Here are our top picks: 

Jennifer Brenner, Controller, World Vision recommends

This is a must-read for financial professionals to better understand different leadership styles and become an effective leader. The leadership teams at most not-for-profits are comprised of individuals from diverse backgrounds. For example, board chairs and executive teams may come from academia, scientific research, public policy or the medical field, and may not necessarily have a corporate or business background. This book affirms the importance of emotionally intelligent leadership and illustrates leadership that is self-aware, motivating and collaborative. 

 

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Forging Ahead in Complex Times

Barry Melancon_headshotIn the following interview, AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, reflects on the profession’s achievements in 2016, and looks forward to the opportunities 2017 will bring.

1) What do you see as the profession’s most significant accomplishments in 2016?

One of the things that has made our profession so strong and vibrant is our willingness to embrace change and adapt to meet evolving needs of the clients and businesses we serve. Today, change is happening at unprecedented speed and fundamentally reshaping the environment where we operate. That means we have to move faster, look farther down the road and over new horizons to anticipate and get ahead of what’s coming next.

We have met that challenge head on, and I would say that is our most important achievement this year. There are numerous examples – the effort to seize new technologies to evolve audit for the future. The work in cybersecurity to create a consistent approach to examination and report on an organization’s safeguards. The new version of the Uniform CPA Exam, which goes live in April 2017 and tests higher order cognitive skills. The launch of RIVIO clearinghouse, which transforms how private company information is exchanged. Our thought leadership and work with employers through the CGMA program to elevate quality in management accounting. And the new international association that members of the AICPA and The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants approved last spring will provide a broader and more powerful platform to advance public and management accounting around the world.

All of this work is critical to our ongoing relevance and our strong reputation as a beacon of insight and trust in a volatile, complex world. It keeps us moving along a path of progress.

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Unclaimed Property: When Does the Auditing Go Too Far?

Money and lockYou know those gift cards you never got around to using? It’s possible they are now being counted as revenue by the state. Same goes for uncashed payroll checks and other financial instruments that were never claimed or used. States’ interest in unclaimed property as a source of revenue continues to grow. CPAs need to be extremely alert to state abandoned and unclaimed property (AUP) laws (which continue to evolve) and AUP reporting requirements to limit surprises related to an audit.

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Find the Answers to Your Practice Management Questions

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Do you have questions about the best practice management direction for your firm? Should your firm consider value billing? Is your firm’s revenue comparable to other similar-sized firms in your area? How much are other firms investing in technology? The 2016 AICPA PCPS/CPA.com National Management of an Accounting Practice (MAP) Survey has the answers. The profession’s largest benchmarking poll on practice management topics, which is conducted every two years, offers unique perspectives on the latest trends within seven defined CPA firm segments, from small practices with less than $200,000 in annual revenue to large firms with $10 million or more. The comprehensive data spotlights best practices for firms, identifies challenges and highlights how firms are tackling them. Practitioners can use the survey data to compare their own approaches with those of firms in the same region along with those with similar revenues. They also can compare their firms to others across the profession. Let’s look at some of the insights the latest survey has to offer. 

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Professional New Year’s Resolutions

2017 goal setting“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

As a CPA, commitment to lifelong learning is a key to your continued success. To ensure you are meeting both your goals and CPE requirements, it is crucial to spend time planning how you will build not only your technical competence, but also your networking and people skills.

What works for me is setting New Year’s resolutions for my career every year. I start by assessing my development needs and setting my goals.

Try these questions to get started:

  • Are there skills I need to strengthen?
  • Are there gaps in my knowledge?
  • Do I want to provide new services to my clients?
  • Is there a certificate or a credential I want to add to my professional profile?
  • What do I want to achieve in 2017?

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Leave Yourself Behind When Working With Clients

Financial planner advising clientI once attended a workshop in which an established adviser shared a story from a conversation he’d had with one of his clients. The client was a young, affluent widow who decided she wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream to buy a condominium in her favorite city in Europe. While she could well afford the $2 million price tag, something was keeping her from pulling the trigger.

The adviser asked, "What is it that is really bothering you about this purchase?" After some deeper probing, she finally shared her issue: "It's just that I keep hearing my mother's voice in my head." (Her mother had died many years ago).

"And what is your mother saying?" he asked.

"She is saying that I am being frivolous with my money."

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Make a List, Check it Twice: Sensible Holiday Shopping

Holiday shoppingWalk into any drug store, and you’ll be bombarded with holiday music insisting “‘Tis the season to be jolly…” and other calls for assorted cheer. And while the holidays offer plenty of opportunities for moments of merriment, fun and being jolly, they can also be a source of anxiety and financial stress for many Americans.

Consider me among those many Americans this year. I have eight nieces and nephews, a few young cousins, grandparents, godchildren, and my husband and two-year-old son on my list. Oh, and I’m having kid number two on December 27. Where to begin? I find it helpful to follow these 10 steps to stay on track while doing your holiday shopping.

  1. Make a list, check it twice. A big, scary don’t-leave-anyone-or-anything-out list. This includes the office Secret Santa gift, a few bottles of wine for the neighbors, gifts you donate to places of worship or charitable organizations, stocking stuffers, and the various friends and family members you’ll be sending gifts to. Then, take a deep breath.

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Five Experts Advisers Should Follow

Social media 2 When I think about why I love being a financial planner, the first thing that comes to mind is the relationships I have with my clients. A close second is the community of other planners around the country who are some of the brightest and most engaging people I know. I consider myself extremely lucky to have been able to meet and learn from so many of these people. I could write an entire book about everyone who has impacted my career, but here are five who I think you should know:

  • Lyle Benson (@LyleKBenson) - Anyone who has been lucky enough to work alongside one of their parents will understand why I have my dad at the top of this list. I've been learning from him my whole life, but I'm certainly not the only person in our industry who has felt his impact. For years, he has been actively involved in the AICPA PFP Section and has put forth tremendous amounts of time and energy promoting CPAs who do financial planning. He is a driving force in our profession.
  • Bob Veres (@BobVeres) - Bob is a true visionary in the financial planning world, and he has an uncanny ability to see the future. He's a passionate advocate for financial planners and isn't afraid to ruffle feathers to make sure the general public knows who we are and what we stand for. He hosts the Insider's Forum each year, and his monthly newsletters are available to all AICPA PFP section members.

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5 Things You May Not Know About IRS Form 990

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With over 300 pages of instructions and 300 possible questions to answer, the IRS Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax is a complex and extensive form. It is filed annually by most exempt organizations, including charities. Here are five things you may not know or may have forgotten about Form 990:   

  1. It is a misnomer to call Form 990 an “income tax return.” There is no income tax calculation in the core Form 990 or within any of the accompanying schedules. The fact that it is not an income tax return becomes very important when attempting to apply the Internal Revenue Code to the filing of Form 990. Generally, where the Internal Revenue Code and the related regulations only reference an “income tax return,” the code or regulation in question will not normally apply to Form 990. It is very important, however, to remember that organizations subject to unrelated business income taxes (UBIT) file a separate Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return, which can be subject to the Internal Revenue Code and the regulations related to the filing of an income tax return.

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